Massively on the Go: Preparing for Pokemon Go’s Los Angeles Sinnoh Tour

    
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Pokemon GO’s Sinnoh Tour is coming to Los Angeles February 16th-18th, but despite its already being sold out, Niantic is still dangling some key features behind closed curtains, such as mythicals and the actual “city-wide” addon locations. To note for those attending from out of town who haven’t seen the relatively newly added suggested hotels, the event may be listed as “Los Angeles,” but the Rose Bowl, where the event is held, is actually in the city of Pasadena. To make matters worse, the teased Spiritomb quest can take you out of Los Angeles County entirely and over to neighboring Orange County. In short, there’s a lot to prepare for, and time is running out.

That’s why Massively On the Go is going to try to help you ticket holders prepare as best as you can for this event. While I am a native of this area, I should note that I do not have insider info from Niantic or any local businesses, so take this info with a grain of salt and check back regularly for updates based on Niantic’s slow drip of additional info.

Pre-travel plans

We’ll cover this a bit more with our checklist, but the first thing to mention is obviously hotels. To note, I highly recommend traveling with higher priorities than the Sinnoh Tour, especially if you’re attending the Saturday event, which is bound to be buggy. Readers may recall that I had a dreadful time in terms of function for the Vegas event, to the point that I requested and was denied a refund. Without totally derailing this, I would strongly consider travelers to make non-Pokemon-centric travel choices.

If you don’t want to heed my advice, book a hotel in or near Pasadena. Simple. Don’t rely on public transportation, though. Pre-COVID, I was a regular bus user, post-COVID the bus system is not nearly as timely as it used to be. One friend reminded me that on less-than-full rails, the trains were often roughly 10 minutes late and sometimes super late. I generally assume the bus will take me two-to-four times longer than if I drove. Taxi or rental are probably better. I cannot recommend a ride-share company (I’m picky, and I’ve heard too many horror stories from friends who work those gigs).

Now if you do want to do other things around LA, one idea is staying in Norwalk, especially if you rent a car or don’t mind paying for a taxi/ride. First, it helps cut down some hotel costs due to location. It’s also not very far from Pasadena and the main event (though, since this is LA, being not far in distance doesn’t mean it won’t take a long time to get there, sometimes as much as four times as long as you may expect). It’s also reasonably close to multiple themeparks MMO players may be interested in, and I say this as someone who traditionally prefers an aquarium. Both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have some above-average themepark food (but it’s still costly), though the former specifically has Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its ARG, which is entertaining enough for MMO fans. Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood is pretty cool too, but unless you go to Universal in California or Japan often, the extra $40 to actually get the full experience is costly.

The other point for Norwalk is that it can make the previously mentioned Spiritomb quest easier. Looking at the map of the 108 special pokestops (or a text list, if you prefer), you’ll notice that there are only four special stops at the Rose Bowl. Unless Niantic isn’t asking for 10 unique stops be spun, that means players wanting to complete the quest will have to go elsewhere. You can go around Pasadena City to get more, but I’ve never been big on the place. Disneyland alone can finish the quest, and let’s be honest, you’ll be standing in line a lot anyway, so POGO makes a good side game when you’re not in the Galaxy’s Edge playable area. There are, obviously, other travel locations, but Norwalk is pretty central unless you’re looking to hit Catalina Island or something along that southern beach area, which is mostly nature stuff (though Torrance’s Del Amo Fashion Center is one of the nation’s largest malls and is far more affordable than the Beverly Hills areas…).

One big downside, however, is that Norwalk itself isn’t super exciting. If you want to focus more on walking around near your hotel, yes, Pasadena still wins. Downtown Los Angeles isn’t terrible during the day, and it has lots of interesting locations, food options, and Spiritomb Pokestops, but even former coworkers who lived there didn’t like to walk in certain areas at night, especially anything touching Skid Row. Yes, that sadly includes Little Tokyo (even during the day), the Arts District, and the Fashion District. Really, LA probably wasn’t the best choice for this event.

This also brings us to the “city-wide” play option. Again, we have no map of the area or description, despite having contacted multiple Niantic sources. Again looking to the Spiritomb quest, I think it might be safe to assume that there’s overlap between the two. That means that you might be able to get bonuses in Disneyland or popular POGO hotspot Santa Monica Pier, but we have no confirmation of that. This is partially why I suggest not planning a whole trip around just the game, as if the “city” it’s limited to is Pasadena, even as a local I wouldn’t want to play much.

2/16 Update: So far the “city-wide” experience and other bonuses are at least LA County-wide. There have been public and private notes that those who have event addons not having their bonuses outside of at least LAC and Orange County. We’ll update this as we learn more. Update 2: Spawns and collection quests have activated in LAC. Update 3: Raids are active too, though I’ve see no confirmation of the Origin forms yet, just vanilla Dialga. Update 4: Regular Dialga and Palkia are at the top half of each hour with raids lasting 20 minutes. The second half of each hour is for their Origin forms. The Adventure Effect moves are live and so far Palkia’s does work with autocatchersUpdate 5: Yes, OC has the “city-wide” bonuses despite not being Los Angeles or LA County. And yes, you can play with the event bonuses at Disneyland.

2/17 Update: Either there were bugs or changes, but today, raids only lasted 10 minutes, with no warning of when or where a raid would start, it simply appeared. Route pokemon are also being auto-caught when they normally aren’t, though you can also encounter pokemon on routes by redoing them, which wasn’t possible yesterday.

When planning your trip, if you’re looking to overlap POGO with other fun, plan around areas that have the above listed Spiritomb stops: The museums and themeparks alone should get you your stops and be memorable experiences.

If you’re basically taking a POGO vacation, though, there are luckily some good spots that hopefully will work outside of Pasadena. Little Tokyo can be fun, though there’s traditionally been public karaoke at night on the weekends outside of the market, which may be another reason to leave there before dark. Downtown LA is similar, minus the karaoke. I mentioned it above, but Santa Monica Pier has been popular with players for ages, has tons of stops, and it’s got a great view (I’ve seen whales real close over there). Just be a bit careful on the streets at night.

In the unlikely event Niantic applies the “city-wide” buff to all of LA County, one out-of-the-way spot is the Shoreline Pier in Long Beach. I’ve run into a streamer there before, if you’re into that; it’s reasonably crowded, it has an aquarium, and it’s got great food options while being fairly safe even at night, though some folks have reception issues. The same goes for the Redondo Beach Pier, which lacks an aquarium but offers a skate park, various boat rides, rentable paddle boats/boards, fishing, and some big ol’ birds and sea lions waiting for leftovers. And again, there’s also Catalina if you can afford it and want to hit an island.

Massively on the Go’s tips

Now, first and foremost, expect everything and anything to go wrong, especially on Saturday. I’ve long since learned – not just from my Vegas Tour experience, but from one of my local communities filled with POGO event travelers – that Saturday is almost always the buggiest day. In fact, some people I spoke with even specifically chose Saturday in hopes of bugs and make-up items/events. To note, though, the reimbursement I got from my experience wasn’t in full and made my trip worse. Be warned.

That being said, this will be a bit different from past Tours as it’s looking underwhelming: no sign of unreleased Mythicals (namely Arceus), no mention of Community Day moves being available via evolution again, and many of the good pokemon useful for raids have already had multiple Community Days. Weirdly, though, not all of them need it, and while everything I’m about to list isn’t top tier, they can still be useful.

2/12 Update: Niantic has confirmed Arceus and other major missing Sinnoh pokemon will not be coming out for the upcoming Tour. To note, while Niantic claims these are “extra special” pokemon deserving “dedicated space,” it should be noted that Phione is a weak pokemon most likely unable to seriously affect the meta and is only “special” because it’s the only known pokemon to come from breeding a Mythical, Manaphy, which from its currently known stats, also wouldn’t affect the meta much. Neither are particularly popular according to a 2020 poll where they failed to break to top 30 of 107. Arceus is certainly both popular and potentially meta relevant, so it makes sense but it still disappointing, especially as past Tours had more popular shiny mythicals Mew and Celebi, not to mention Gen 3’s Primals. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if this year’s Go Fest at least has Arceus.

2/16 Update: In a surprise twist, Community Day moves are available for some pokemon! Reports are varying wildly so far, such as some people getting event moves on Rhyperior and some not, while there are event reports of Rowlett, Oshawatt, and Cyndaquil getting the same, as they have Hisuian forms (which can’t be evolved). Some aren’t even getting it on Rhyperior though. We’ll update this as we learn more. Update 2: Potential CD move pokemon include Torterra, Infernape, Empoleon, Staraptor, Luxray, Roserade, Rhyperior, Electivire, Magmortar, Togekiss, Glaceon, Leafeon, Mamoswine, Porygon-Z, Gallade, Dusknoir, Typhlosion, Samurott, and Decidueye. Of those, I have not seen or tested Glaceon, Leafeon, or Typhlosion. I can also confirm that Lickilicky does not get Body Slam when evolved. Update 3: Leafeon and Glaceon learn their Last Resort CD move.

Roselia no longer needs its CD move, Togetic as well (though the CD move makes it better for PvP), both of Ralts‘ evolutions (if not Shadow) are fine, Cranidos is great, Rhyhorn’s line is still useful for new players who need Ground (or save it for whenever it’s Rock CD move comes back), as is Sneasel for Dark/Ice, though Swinub for Ice/Ground is also great. While Eevee can benefit in some of its form from some of its CD moves, it’s always for PvP, so don’t hold back if you’re a new player in need of one of its element types.

Gible, however, most likely will have its CD move before the event so it’s nearly moot, and Rhyhorn for Rock needs to wait, as does Starly in general. All three are high-end picks outside of Legendaries and Megas, while their Shadow forms are some of the best, so it’s a real shame Niantic won’t be allowing us to evolve for special moves from what we know thus far.

Niantic is also looking to whale a bit as it did with the first release of Megas via the new Adventure Effect feature. For some legendary candy and 5,000 stardust, players can either have 6-minute extensions of incense (even Daily), Lucky Eggs, and Starpieces or increase their wild spawn radius by an undisclosed distance for 10 minutes. Origin Dialga (Diamond badge) is the one who’ll help timers if it has Roar of time while Origin Palkia (Pearl badge) with Spacial Rend will help with distance.

2/12 Update: We have more information on the badges. On February 15th, 10am local time, you can pick which one you’ll take. In addition to the above pokemon getting their event move guaranteed, you’ll also get candy for the pokemon, double the effect of their Adventure Effect, and an encounter of them with their move via research.

Yes, that’s a pretty premium benefit for a pretty premium price. Some people think this will go the way of Megas, in that this will be the first rollout of the feature before Niantic makes it easier, but the overall value of these tours and the game has been in decline recently, hence my warning to all players: Curb your expectations for this event! 

The Vegas Hoenn Tour was bad, despite changes and early announcements that even got this critic excited. My local community members are admittedly part of the reason the event sold out so quickly, but despite being big spenders, they’re also pretty vocal about how pricey the Adventure Effect feature is looking. Worse is that this seems to be the main thing to consider when choosing either a Diamond or Pearl badge for the event.

Unlike Megas, it seems like the pokemon’s strength doesn’t affect the usefulness. There’s no need to invest in the ‘mon, and most likely, you’ll be able to trade your version’s Origin boss for the other if you do a few raids. Still, if you have to choose (especially if you lack trading partners and struggle to find them at the event): As long as you don’t walk much, are stuck in-doors for many Community Days, or live near a lot of restricted-access areas, then Pearl may be the way to go initially, while Diamond is more about extending timers and having a Pokemon that’s all-around more useful. Palkia’s always been second fiddle to Dialga, and while Origin Dialga loses some attack, it’s getting a better move and bulk, so it’ll most likely be an improvement just the same.

While the hatch options aren’t great for regionals (the purple 10k eggs), collectors and hatchers will want to start clearing space. My suggestion is to hatch non-2k eggs. The reasoning is that when you do need to hatch, they’re far easier to get rid of than the other eggs. Conversely, if you’re a big spender, stock up on 10k or even the Rocket 12k eggs so you can pop them in incubators and hatch a bunch all at once to get the biggest bonuses at the start of the event.

2/16 Update: White Stripe Basculin is available on Routes in LA. As well, Rotom can be caught by entering the code 0HY0UF0UNDM3 here.

Some folks may need to stock up on Pokeballs as well. I wouldn’t be too worried about revives and potions, as these raids are often over in the blink of an eye, but that’s also why you may want to start clearing pokemon storage space: We are still in a historic low for storage, and I can’t see Niantic giving a ton of extra space. Last year’s Hoenn Tour event gave us only 50 paid spaces, which was one of the more minor reasons it was the worst of the Tours thus far, and my expectations for Sinnoh are admittedly lower.

2/15 Update: To my extreme surprise, Niantic has returned to adding 500 storage spaces pre-tour this year, so if you’re in need, you can extend your storage again now.

The problem, naturally, is that this is also an event where people from around the world will be visiting. Skipping ahead a bit, you may want to hold on to some regionals for trades. Anything available in North America or the USA probably isn’t great aside from the local Flabebe (yellow) and Oricorio (also yellow). These tend to be fairly uncommon and could save international travelers some time/grief. On the other hand, if you’re coming from abroad, your local Flabebe, Oricorio, and even Furfrou cuts can be highly valuable to locals, as can useful regionals like Heracross or Hawlucha, and rare ones like Sigilyph, Comfey, and Bouffalant.

For supplies, we still don’t know what will be on-site in terms of food and water, but I was quite happy I brought water, snacks, and a hoodie to Vegas, as the food truck lines were incredibly long and nothing really looked like it was worth the price.

However, Vegas is much better for walking than Pasadena/LA is. I walked to get my post-Hoenn Tour meals in Vegas, but I don’t feel that’s an option here. Just googling the stadium shows that aside from Brookside Restaurant (which is open to the public, despite being at the golf course), you’re walking about 40 minutes to get grub.

Expect to drive or do room service. Old Town Pasadena has some reasonable bars as well as more expensive cafes and restaurants, which is nice if you’ve got the money. Downtown LA, especially Grand Central Market, Little Tokyo, and oddly the Arts District all have good places to eat and drink (and tackle the Spiritomb quest) that are cost- and taste-efficient, but again, be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Snacks and bottled drinks will be your friend.

As for weather, it’s not looking too bad (2/12 Update: unless you’re going Sunday). It’s on the cool side for locals, but if you’re from an area that gets snow or regular rainfall, you might be OK with jeans and a t-shirt. We’ve been having more rain lately and a bit of wind, which can’t be helped on your event day if it were to occur.

If you’re taking advantage of the “city-wide” bonus, though, note that indoor play in SoCal is super rough. We don’t have a ton of indoor malls, which is yet another reason I don’t recommend anyone making POGO the main reason for traveling. That being said, I can at least say that previously mentioned Del Amo Mall in Torrance, while far from the action, at least has plenty of room to walk and even sit.

For raid prep, the recent Therian Landorus is great for countering Origin Dialga, as is the recent Conkeldurr without needing the Community Day move. Countering Origin Palkia will be even easier, as the Lunar New Year dragon event and recent Haxorus Community Day will give you plenty of Dragion options to counter it.

We’ve talked about it a bit, but for Spiritomb prep again, here is the map of the 108 special pokestops (or a text list). Pasadena for minimal driving and Disneyland if you’re with non-POGO travelers are probably your best bet if Niantic requires 10 unique pokestops. While the list mentions Downtown LA, Santa Monica pier/nearby airport, and Griffith area all having over 10, they’re quite wide spread and will require driving or very long walks (though DTLA with public transportation isn’t too bad during the day once you’re actually in the city). If you can just spin the same stop 10 times, you’ll be fine staying on site.

2/16 Update: The quest requires unique stops, so you’ll have to do some traveling. Update 2: For locals, Culver City’s got a nice cluster to help you finish things off before/after your event day, as does the La Brea Tarpits/Pan Pacific Park area. They’re fine if you’re from out of town, especially since I can highly recommend the Tar Pits museum, but they’re not great tourist areas for most people, in my opinion.

Naturally, any and all of this can change. Check back often for updates, even Friday and Saturday of the event, as Niantic is sadly adept at last-minute changes, bugs, and “miscommunications.”

For those who aren’t going to LA, in some ways, be glad. Had this not been a local event for me, neither my friends nor I would be attendeding, especially not specifically for POGO. That being said, the Global events are usually above average, and we’ll have a separate prep guide for that after the LA event ends, so look forward to that!

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
Pokemon Go studio Niantic is considered a controversial gaming company owing to multiple scandals and deceptions, starting with the Wi-Spy privacy scandal; over the years, it’s repeatedly failed to secure player data, endangered players during the pandemic, and refused to address documented stalking in POGO. It also rolled back popular accessibility features to incentivize data collection, faked data, and lied about event results. Following 2021’s community-driven Pokemon No boycott, Niantic vowed transparency and communication; it has not delivered.
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